12/09/2009 12:00AM

Santa Anita tweaks overnight purses


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Santa Anita has cut purses for some overnight races and left others unchanged for the upcoming winter-spring meeting from Dec. 26 to April 18.

The condition book, detailing the races for the first two weeks of the meeting, through Jan. 9, was published earlier this week.

Purses for some allowance races were cut $4,000, while maiden special weight races were cut $1,000. Purses for lesser horses, in the maiden claiming categories, were left unchanged.

The reconfigured purse levels were reached after discussions between track officials and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which negotiates purses on behalf of California horsemen.

"We left some alone and dropped others," director of racing Mike Harlow said. "It's a policy of the TOC that they preferred [that some purses] stayed at a certain level. Most of them are the same."

The biggest cuts came to the better class races. An allowance race over a mile on turf for "nonwinners other than" will be run for $48,000, down from $52,000 in the first two weeks of the 2008-09 meeting. A turf race over 1 1/8 miles for $35,000 to $40,000 claimers has been cut by $1,000, to $36,000.

The track's overnight stakes will be run for $60,000 or $65,000. Five such races are scheduled through Jan. 10, including the $60,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares on Jan. 3. The Kalookan Queen is a prep for the $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap over seven furlongs on Jan. 31.

"Some of those races are key for the entire stakes schedule as preps for graded stakes," Harlow said. He said such races are likely to be offered through the meeting if handle figures are high enough to justify the expense.

Harlow said he expects the Santa Anita backstretch to be full, but said support is needed from horsemen based at Hollywood Park to help field sizes. Hollywood Park's barn area is not currently full. Economic conditions in Southern California have forced some owners out of the sport.

"We'll be full," Harlow said. "We'll see what happens at Hollywood Park. That's the main factor. Stall space here is at a premium. The horse population is a concern. You have to be optimistic."

Woolf Award nominees announced

Jockeys Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, Randy Meier, Gallyn Mitchell, and DeShawn Parker have been nominated for the 2010 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, according to a release issued by Santa Anita on Wednesday.

The award is presented annually by the racetrack, following a vote by riders throughout the nation. The award recognizes excellence on the racetrack and personal character.

Borel is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby twice, including this year's running on Mine That Bird, and as the regular rider of Rachel Alexandra.

Gomez has won two Eclipse Awards as the nation's leading rider, in 2007 and 2008.

Meier, has been a fixture on the Chicago circuit for nearly 30 years and at the age of 55 is the senior member of the nominees.

Mitchell rides at Emerald Downs in Washington, where he is the track's all-time leading rider. Parker is a Woolf finalist for the first time, along with Mitchell and Gomez, and is a leading rider at Mountaineer Park.

Richard's Kid to skip Native Diver

Richard's Kid, winner of the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar in September, will pass Saturday's $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park because of expected inclement weather, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Instead, Richard's Kid will be pointed to the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 9, with the Dubai World Cup in the Middle East in March as a long-term goal.

Rain is expected in Southern California at the end of the week, and Baffert fears that such conditions could lead to a track that favors front-runners at Hollywood Park on Saturday. Richard's Kid races from well off the pace.

"We've learned a lot about the horse and how he likes to be ridden," Baffert said. "I think he would be at a total disadvantage."

The Native Diver field includes Lava Man, the seven-time Grade 1 stakes winner who has not started since July 2008. A winner of 17 of 46 starts and $5,268,706, Lava Man underwent stem cell procedures in the last year on his ankles before resuming training in late summer.

Other expected starters are High Court Drama, Mast Track, Neko Bay, Square Eddie, and Tres Borrachos.

Lookin at Lucky back to work

Lookin at Lucky, a game second to Vale of York in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

The winner of three stakes at Del Mar and Santa Anita earlier this year, Lookin at Lucky will make his final start of 2009 in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19. A win there could further enhance his chances of gaining the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding 2-year-old of 2009.